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Climate Change: Is Mankind Turning The Earth Into An Industrial Oven? - With A Free Essay Review
The greenhouse effect is the root of diverse and intelligent life on earth. Sun rays strike soil, snow and water and depending on the composition of the terrain, a certain percentage of rays are then absorbed and reflected back into space. This process is called the Albedo Effect and plays an important role in the overall cycle that sustains life on earth. Beginning in the 1800’s, the industrial revolution began a new era of our socio-technological evolution. The transforming economic and technological activities are beginning to be overshadowed by increasing concentrations of heat absorbing gasses called “Greenhouse Gasses.” Primarily due to the increase in levels of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels, computer generated models from research centers like the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, have shown substantial increases in earth’s temperature over this past century. “The future of our society depends on effectively managing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Public and private research and development support for these efforts will allow us to transition to a carbon-neutral energy system that improves both environmental quality and economic growth” (Gordon Rausser, UC-Berkeley) . In this paper I will try to educate the reader about the impact that man has made on the rising temperatures on earth. And whether or not society has future plans to divert from fossil fuels by discovering new ways to generate sustainable energy.
In 1988 the World Meteorological Organization and UN environment program established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change consisting of an elaborate, worldwide network of scientists. This panel focuses on “providing world leadership in expertise and international cooperation in weather, climate, hydrology, water resources and related environmental issues.” They were also the first to highlight the dangers associated to global warming. The main concern being the melting of global polar ice caps, sub sequentially raising sea levels. Other fears are the intensification of extreme weather like hurricanes, floods, droughts and ultimately an ice-age.
Data shows there’s been a one degree F increase in global average surface temperatures. The last fifteen years have included the ten hottest years on record and global sea levels have risen four to eight inches over the past century. There is a dangerous physical factor associated to heat. As the increasing concentrations of greenhouse gasses begin to act as a heat-trapping blanket, the water in the oceans begins to heat. This poses several extreme problems. As the oceans begin to heat up, the water surrounding the glacial caps temporally erode the ice at a faster pace, increasing sea level. As water temperature rises, water expands. The expansion coinciding with just one degree rise in sea temperature raises global sea level by up to ten feet, consequently displacing hundreds of millions of people. “In India alone, 40 million people would be displaced by a one-meter sea-level rise.” In addition to the rise in sea level, high carbon dioxide levels have another impact on the oceans. One of the main retainers of gasses include our oceans and seas. As these sees incorporate more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses into their liquid composition, they are also becoming more acidic. These increasingly acidic environments are also proportional to decreasing levels of oxygen in the water. As levels of oxygen drop, algae and other plants begin to inhabit these “dead zones.” The algae quickly cover the water, depleting it of sunlight and nutrients. These areas, which usually contain highly concentrated aquatic ecosystems, quickly become unsupportable for life. ”Scientists place the problem on runoff of chemical fertilizers in rivers and fallout from burning fossil fuels, and they estimate there are now more than 400 dead zones along 95,000 square miles of the seas.” Most common around coastlines and large lakes, dead zones directly affect fishing economies consequently making underdeveloped countries with commercial fishing even more dependent on already developed countries.
Another great danger that’s very prominent in the western US are wildfires. ”Areas burned by wildfires in the West could increase by 50 percent by 2050, with even larger increases of 75 percent to 175 percent in the Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain West.” This incredible increase in fire hazards is sparked by the global temperature rise which shifts climates. These shifts produce arid regions that are more prone to forest fires. California and Colorado have already seen the devastation of extreme wildfires. “The smoke over Colorado, which has made the mountains west of Denver invisible from downtown Denver, has come directly from the massive 85,000-acre wildfire in Southern California, according to the National Weather Service.”
The last danger is associated with the absorption and reflection of the sun’s rays. As the ice begins to melt, which reflects up to 95% of sunlight, it turns into water which reflects only about 20%. This leads to a colossal increase in water temperature. Finally, the heating of the planet is further catalyzed by the gas blanket and clouds that trap even more of the heat leading to an overall planetary albedo reflection of about 30-35%.
Although water, ice and atmospheric data all show drastic signs of global warming there are still people who dispute these claims. From evolution to race, scientists have always held contrary views to scientific claims. Regarding the scientific consensus on global warming, it would be an appeal to authority fallacy if everyone believed what a panel of scientists is stating. Its one thing stating that global warming is occurring, because it’s a scientifically tracked process that has been occurring for millions of years. Yet to state that it was mans impact on the environment that has given rise to this change in weather is a ludicrous assumption. “More than 31,478 US scientists have signed a mail-in petition rejecting global warming as part of the Global Warming Petition Project, including 9,029 scientists with PhD’s. Additionally, a minority report from the US Senate Environment and Public Work Committee has released a list of over 700 scientists rejecting global warming.” There are several other controversial aspects of manmade global warming and data trends in general. Temperature and sea level readings are disputable because only over the past century have we begun to globally generate data on these trends. Some state that the only true reliable source of data there is, are ice cores. These are usually 1000 foot long tubes of ice extracted from Antarctica which contain the gaseous abundancies present on earth from hundreds of thousands of years ago and allow scientist to form trends of atmospheric carbon-dioxide compositions. Although there aren’t vast amounts of data signifying the impact that man is making on the earths’ climate, there are many economic interests associated to alternating fuel sources. Paul Garret from the Columbia School of Business states “Preventing dangerous climate change is a great investment. It will cost between one and two percent of GDP, and the benefits will be between 10 and 20 percent. That’s a return of 10 to 1—attractive even to a venture capitalist.” If preparing for the ‘unknown’ is productive and profitable, then it is dangerous to speculate with the delicate equilibrium sustaining our atmosphere.
Several countries in the world have already begun to show initiative towards the goal of attaining sustainable energy. Projects like the International Thermonuclear Experimental Project, which aims at creating nuclear fusion in a controlled environment, are our best chances of being less fossil fuel dependent. Some people think global warming is just another fad in order to increase government spending on illegitimate research. Yet almost all the research that has been done on man impacted global warming has shown conclusive evidence that the fault is ours. In conclusion, I believe it is our duties as citizens to find meaningful and sustainable solutions to problems that limit the prosperity of others.
There are a lot of little problems with this essay, and one or two big ones, so the most important advice I can give you about writing essays in general is that you should slow down, think about what you are doing in the essay as a whole, organize your thoughts, plan them out, divide them up into units that you can deal with in individual paragraphs, and make conscious decisions about the order in which your ideas are presented. But since such advice is much too generic, let’s look at a few specific problems. We can start at the beginning.
Your first sentence is unrelated to your second sentence. The first sentence is about the greenhouse effect; the second is about a process that you call (in your third sentence) the Albedo effect. Your fourth sentence is about a process you call "socio-technological evolution." Your fifth sentence is about an undefined process (overshadowing) that involves greenhouse gases. Now the problem with these first five sentences is the problem with the essay as a whole. The thoughts they convey are unclear and poorly organized. Why do you not define the greenhouse effect, for instance? After all, that's the topic of your paper. Why do you instead define the Albedo effect here in the introduction? After all, that is only a subtopic of your essay, a topic that you do not return to until the fifth paragraph. I think I understand why you are talking about the socio-technological evolution, but you don't actually explain why. You leave it up to your reader to guess that what you are saying is that that evolution has been enabled in large part by the energy produced from fossil fuels and that that’s causing a climatological problem. Your reader is likely to guess that much given what you go on to say about fossil fuels and given the quotation you cite, but it is not a good idea to put your reader in the position of guessing your point. What you say about technological activities being "overshadowed by increasing concentrations of ... greenhouse gases" is unclear (I would guess [again] that you mean the advantages of technology are being outstripped by the disadvantages of climate change). Moreover, the phrase "Primarily due to the increase in the levels of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels" is an example of a dangling or misplaced modifier (you want to say [I would guess!] that climate change is due to that increase, but what you actually say is that computer models [exist] due to that increase). Because of all this confusion, the chances of your reader not really knowing what you are talking about are higher than you might expect. I would imagine that a reader might really have no idea what you are saying in the first paragraph unless the reader already knows that climate change is being caused by increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, caused in turn by human exploitation of fossil fuels.
Perhaps you think I am suggesting that your reader might be stupid. Yes. That's exactly what I'm saying. Assume your reader is stupid! And on the basis of that assumption, it would be a good idea to explain what you are saying as clearly and carefully as possible. Put your thoughts in the right order. Articulate them in grammatically correct sentences. Avoid vague expressions like "overshadow" when concrete expressions are needed. Define the terms that you are using (greenhouse effect, greenhouse gas) instead of the term you will be using five paragraphs later.
Putting it like that makes it all sound very easy, but if it were easy we wouldn't be here, so don't lose heart if it doesn't all come together for you without further ado. Writing is hard, so it requires effort, and patience.
But here's a problem you can address immediately. Your quotation of Rausser in your first paragraph is just dropped into the paragraph without introduction or context or comment. You do this with quotations several times in your essay. The worst (most problematic) example is the quotation at the end of your paragraph about wildfires. That quotation could come from anywhere and any time. It might relate to climate change or not. For all your reader knows it could be a sentence written in a fictional letter from a character in a novel published in the 1930s (the reader, let's assume, doesn't know if the National Weather Service existed in the 1930s). You don't use that quotation for any purpose, beyond providing (relatively weak) evidence of the existence once upon a time of a fire that had an impact on visibility in Colorado. Consider, by contrast, the following.
“These shifts produce arid regions that are more prone to forest fires. California and Colorado have already seen the devastation of extreme wildfires. In 2005, a "massive 85,000-acre wildfire in Southern California" caused enough smoke over Colorado to make "the mountains west of Denver invisible from downtown Denver," as Mr X, citing the National Weather Service, reported in The Imaginary Times. While climatologists (source?!) say that individual events such as this cannot be conclusively tied to climate change, it is believed that global warming generally increases the likelihood of such events.”
I've made stuff up here for the sake of an example. Let’s note the improvements: First, note that the quotation is now integrated into my own sentence. Second, note that the context is clarified (I've made up a date for the example, but you would know the actual date). Third, note that the quotation is documented (it appeared in an article written by Mr. X in the Imaginary Times). Finally, note that the quotation is commented on ("While climatologists, etc ....") and the comment clarifies both that and how the quotation can serve as evidence for an argument (climate change is dangerous) in the essay.
If you make it a rule to do those four things with every quotation you use, your essays (all of them!) will be significantly better than they would otherwise be.
Let's look now, and finally, at your thesis. Well, we can't really do that because you don't have a thesis, but you do have a statement about what the essay will be about, so let's look at that. It is articulated in the final two sentences of your first paragraph. Since the second of these two sentences is actually a fragment, it should really be written as one sentence, which we do here:
"In this paper I will try to educate the reader about the impact that man has made on the rising temperatures on earth, and [about] whether or not society has future plans to divert from fossil fuels by discovering new ways to generate sustainable energy."
A thesis, properly speaking, would articulate the argument that you propose to make, so I think I am right in calling this a statement rather than a thesis. You can think of such a statement as a promise. In this case, however, I think the promise is broken. Your next several paragraphs do not educate the reader about the impact man has had on global temperatures; instead, they educate us about the dangers of climate change. Worse, the first statement you do make about man's impact on global warming is the following: "to state that it was man's [note correction] impact on the environment that has given rise to this change in weather [I assume you mean "climate" rather than "weather"] is a ludicrous assumption."
Presumably that last sentence was motivated by a desire to take into account the position of your possible opponents. I applaud that, but in this case you are falsely strengthening your opponent's argument. The idea that there exists man-made climate change is not an "assumption" (so it is also not a "ludicrous assumption"). Perhaps the worst you could say about that idea is that it is merely (!) a fairly robust theory, supported by known physics, empirical data, computer models, and the scientific community generally. It is almost always a good idea to acknowledge possible objections to your argument (which is why I usually tell students to do that), but when you do that, you then need to explain why your opponents are wrong (you must know this and demonstrate it if your own argument is to be persuasive).
Anyway, I suggest that you revise your statement (in the first paragraph) so that it becomes a thesis (clarifying an argument), and in particular so that it becomes a thesis that accurately reflects what you do in the essay. So far your essay is largely arguing that climate change is dangerous. If you also want to argue that it is man-made, you still have a good deal of work to do.
Best wishes, EJ.